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This reminds me of a quote I saw in Real Programmers Don't Use Pascal:
One of my favorite Real Programmers was a systems programmer for Texas Instruments. One day, he got a long distance call from a user whose system had crashed in the middle of saving some important work. Jim was able to repair the damage over the phone, getting the user to toggle in disk I/O instructions at the front panel, repairing system tables in hex, reading register contents back over the phone. The moral of this story: while a Real Programmer usually includes a keypunch and lineprinter in his toolkit, he can get along with just a front panel and a telephone in emergencies.
On a more serious note, on occasion (mostly when my wrists hurt from typing too much) I have thought about what it would take to optimize a programming language for voice input/output systems. This could be very useful for visually impaired people who use reading software as their output device, and to those who can't use a keyboard input device, but who want to continue to program efficiently.
You mentioned that your primary problem was not the character to voice conversion; however, in a usable system, pronunciation of the special characters in Perl would create quite a bottleneck for efficient input/output via voice interfaces. Has anyone come up with alternate pronunciations, or even standard pronunciations of commonly used special characters? Does anyone know of any research already done on this subject? Is anyone out there programming Perl with a voice input or output device on a regular basis?